Australia Pacific Island Seasonal Workers Scheme Expanded

Just recently, the Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has announced that it has expanded its Pacific Seasonal Workers Pilot Scheme (PSWPS).

Last 8th of September, 2011, Prime Minister Gillard announced that Nauru, Samoa, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu have been invited to join Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, Tonga and Vanuatu as participants in the Pacific Seasonal Worker Pilot Scheme.

So what is the Pacific Seasonal Workers Pilot Scheme (PSWPS)?

Pacific Seasonal Workers Pilot Scheme (PSWPS)

In August 2008, in the lead-up to the 2008 Pacific Islands Forum leaders’ meeting in Niue, the Australian government had lunched what was called the Seasonal Worker Pilot Scheme for the Pacific islands or better known as Pacific Seasonal Workers Pilot Scheme (PSWPS).

PSWPS is designed for Australian employers to get a guaranteed labor force during peak harvest time, while workers have the chance to earn high wages to send home remittances to family and community.

Under the scheme, up to 2,500 visas not a Australian work holiday visa nor any of the Australian holiday visas were first made available for unskilled workers from Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Kiribati and Vanuatu to work for up to seven months in any 12-month period with horticultural enterprises or farms in Australia who cannot find enough local labor to meet their seasonal harvest needs.

This means that Pacific seasonal workers from Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, Tonga or Vanuatu are recruited to work in Australia’s horticulture industry for up to six months, picking fruit in orchards and vineyards.

In order to be considered eligible to participate in the scheme, workers of participating countries must comply with the scheme’s Australian visa requirements such as:
be aged between 21 and 45 at the time of visa application
Be of good character – where applicants will undergo a police record check
be healthy and fit for the work specified
be citizens of the participating country and in the participating country at the time of visa application
have a genuine intention to enter Australia for seasonal work and return to the participating country after their employment ceases
have not participated in the New Zealand Recognized Seasonal Employer (NZ RSE) scheme

Pacific Seasonal Workers Pilot Scheme Expanded

Now, PSWPS participants have been expanded and now include the Pacific countries of Nauru, Samoa, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu.

Aimed to provide Australian producers more avenue to source workers, where seasonal demands outstrip the local supply of labor as well as offer an important economic boost to more communities in Australia’s Pacific neighborhoods, workers from Nauru, Samoa, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu have been invited to join those from Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, Tonga and Vanuatu to participate in the pilot scheme.

Under this pilot scheme, Australian farmers are now allowed to employ workers from certain Pacific Island countries, under special visa conditions different from the conditions set in the work holiday Australia visa.

So far with over 560 workers recruited, the pilot scheme is said to have been delivering benefits to both Australia’s horticulture industry and participating Pacific countries, as these pacific seasonal workers remit money back home, benefiting their families and broader communities and in Australia, the pilot scheme is said to be delivering productivity gains for the horticulture industry, predominantly in regional areas where access to a reliable labor supply has been a longstanding challenge.

As Australia’s horticulture industry recovers from the severe drought and floods as well as following the introduction of more flexible arrangements by the Australian Government in December 2010, the demand for Pacific seasonal workers by the horticulture industry is increasing.

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